Weekly Digest – 1/13 to 1/19/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist” – Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout” – Steven Mulroy, Law professor

Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”- Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries inside this post.

Repealing mandatory abortion regulations

Title: “Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.

Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.

“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.

Redistricting reform options

Title: “Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 15, 2020;

Virginia’s new Democratic majorities will have at least three different redistricting reform proposals to choose from in the 2020 session. But only one would take away the General Assembly’s constitutional power to redraw the state’s political maps next year.

For years, Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission that would reduce or eliminate politicians’ ability to draw safe districts for themselves or their party. After taking power just before the 2021 redistricting process, they’re under a time crunch to figure out how to do it.

 

Australia boosts voter turnout

Title: “What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
AuthorSteven Mulroy
Source: The Conversation
Date: Jan. 14, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

Militias organize, promise to resist

Title: “As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist
Author: Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw
Source: Virginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 13, 2020

Opponents of new gun laws in Virginia are organizing militias in the state, but promise they’re not planning to use the new paramilitary organizations to launch a violent insurrection against the government.

“We’re just a group of like-minded individuals trying to protect our rights,” said a man standing in the gravel parking lot of an auto repair shop in rural King William County Sunday, where a “call to muster” had asked anyone interested in forming a local militia to meet for preliminary discussions. “We’re not trying to overthrow anyone.”

Weekly Digest – 1/6 to 1/12/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“No, Virginia. The governor’s budget doesn’t fund an 18-officer gun confiscation squad.” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Culpeper rally rouses hundreds for gun rights” – Clint Schemmer, Culpeper Star-Exponent

“‘Madam Speaker’: After 400 years, Filler-Corn becomes first woman to lead Virginia House” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

ERA begins its journey to near certain ratification in Virginia” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

More articles from past week inside post …

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